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Garden Diary August 2015

A very wet…. .
No, I can’t start this blog like the last one from July. I should really focus on the pleasant sides within the four walls of our garden, which we have plenty of. First of all we can spare water and electricity this year; it’s a while since we used our automatic sprinkler system! Surprisingly it seems to be a good climate for most bedding plants. Everything is in full bloom and the blossom seems to be more intense than usual. I have to say it is much easier to take pictures of the garden when it is overcast, photography with clear sunny skies can be a challenge, too!
Walkways double as ornamental water features in our Parterre, where the Monkey Puzzle Tree is mirrored in the puddles like a fourth dimension!

Pic1 Parterre during the ‘Rainy-Season’ with hidden Diamond Hill in background
Pic1 Parterre during the ‘Rainy-Season’ with hidden Diamond Hill in background

I don’t want to sound sarcastic with my recent comments but it is important to stay positive. My motto these days is: It could be worse!

Our main colour scheme within the formal garden consists of shades of yellow, blue, red and white this year. Especially Calendula ‘Orange King’, Antirrhinum ‘Night & Day’ (Snapdragon), Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’ and Verbena rigida give great contrasts like in our ‘D-beds’.

Pic2 The D-beds in full bloom
Pic2 The D-beds in full bloom

The main bedding plants for yellow are Tagetes tenuifolia ‘Golden Gem’ and Tropaeolum ‘Golden King’ (Nasturtium). Some of these plants are getting replanted at the moment so they will last until the end of the season.

Pic3 Our Circle beds at the South Slope
Pic3 Our Circle beds at the South Slope

Its pruning time for many shrubs as flowering has finished. I noticed that our Weigelias have flowered very late this season and the shrubs are still covered with blossom.

Pic4 The flower of Weigelia coraeensis
Pic4 The flower of Weigelia coraeensis

Jan, one of our garden students has just trimmed back our ornamental Cherry trees (Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’), planted as dots in our south slope. This way they won’t outgrow too much and we keep a balanced picture.

Pic5 Pruning the ornamental Cherry
Pic5 Pruning the ornamental Cherry

I might have discovered another invasive plant here in Connemara. Leycesteria formosa, the Himalayan honeysuckle, seems to spread quite a lot outside our garden walls. The very attractive shrub was also important by the Victorian plant hunters from China back in the 19th century and now it seems to escape like many other species before (eg. Rhododendron, Gunnera). Investigating a bit more I came across an article about the ‘Beast or Beauty’, meaning this shrub is a beauty when it’s not spreading invasively like in New Zealand. It is declared as a pest plant over there and our climate here in Connemara seems to be very similar to the island south-east of Australia. So we better watch out and start to control it.

Pic6 The flower of the Himalayan honeysuckle
Pic6 The flower of the Himalayan honeysuckle

The fruit production has had its ups and downs this season, too. The white currants were overloaded with fruits whereas our black currants are only half covered with small black berries. We have hardly any plums but the pear trees are full. Also our only peach tree, planted originally by the Benedictine Nuns many years ago, is having a good year. Unfortunately most fruits will split open with the heavy rain fall before fully ripe.

Pic7 White Currant ‘White Versaille’
Pic7 White Currant ‘White Versaille’
Pic8 Peach
Pic8 Peach

It is now safe to say that we have seen better years for vegetables; our French beans might be ready for picking, if at all, in October. They need sun and heat to do well, something very rare this season. A local man just told me this morning that we have probably experienced the coldest summer in weather recording, I believe it.

Pic9 Our French and runner beans
Pic9 Our French and runner beans
Pic10 Declan is cutting back bolting vegetables
Pic10 Declan is cutting back bolting vegetables

Please find below our usual garden tips.

Happy Gardening to everyone.

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in August:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Start to sow spring bedding for next year like Bellis, Forgetmenots, Stocks
~ Take cuttings of non flowering shoots of Fuchsia, Pelargonium and Hydrangea
~ Last sowings of overwintering crops like leaf beet, beetroot, mizuna

To plant:
~ Plant out more catch crops like lettuce and spring onion
~ Plant and water shrubs or perennials left in pots

To harvest:
~ Onions, Garlic
~ Courgettes and Marrows
~ Last of Potatoes
~ Lettuce, Spinach, Leaf beet, Cabbage, Kale
~ Plums

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Dead head summer bedding and herbaceous plants once a week
~ Cut back bolting vegetables like Spinach, Leaf beet, Kales etc.
~ Prune summer fruiting raspberries (cut out this year’s fruiting stems, leave new shoots)
~ Summer pruning of apples and pears, especially wall fruits
~ Pruning of Plums and Cherries (Don’t prune in winter to avoid silver leaf disease)
~ Clear first leaves of lawns and paths